5 takeaways from a national fire station design expert

October 7th, 2016

BKV architect, Craig Carter, took the stage at the FIERO Fire Station Design Symposium in September to discuss two burning topics regarding fire station design, sustainability and cost efficiency. If you missed his presentation, you’re in luck! Here are the top 5 takeaways for each session.

Session 1: Sustainability in the Fire Station: from Start to Finish to Forever

  1. Millennials seek a sustainable culture in their workplace – to recruit and retain them, you must address it explicitly.
  2. Before hiring a design team, decide what level of sustainability you want to pursue based on your community, public impact and the desired building longevity.
  3. The most impactful green strategy is to reduce square footage. Smaller buildings require less energy and resources to build and to heat, cool, and maintain.
  4. To make long-term progress in energy savings, design buildings that measure how much electricity is going to mechanical systems, lighting and plug loads. Use a similar strategy to track water usage.
  5. To build a culture of sustainability, use a sustainability rating system on your new and existing buildings (e.g. Energy Star, LEED EB, GBI EB), make sustainability a factor in purchasing decisions, challenge your employees to save water and energy and reward success, participate in sustainable challenges (e.g. Bike to Work Week, Green Workplace Challenge), and contribute to research for the environmental impact of fire loss.

Session 2: How to Build a Fire Station for a Lot Less Money

  1. Due to labor and material cost increases, improved regulation and more sophisticated building systems, construction costs are escalating at 5 percent per year, far faster than inflation.
  2. Carefully shrinking rooms and spaces will rapidly reduce costs. A national fire station expert can help you reduced square footage by as much as 33 percent without creating long-term functionality problems.
  3. If properly detailed, a wood-frame structure with low-cost siding materials and certain residential building systems can last over 50 years.
  4. The modern design style was originally created as a way to reduce construction costs, and it is still less expensive than traditional design styles.
  5. There are countless opportunities for grant funding, low-cost financing and reductions in project soft costs.

What’s next?
Contact your national fire station expert to take advantage of their broad knowledge base!

Craig Carter, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Project Architect
Craig’s career is dedicated to working on public sector projects, specifically fire stations. He is the National Lead Fire Station Designer at BKV Group and has completed over 35 fire station projects in the last decade, many of them award winning. Craig holds a Masters of Architecture and is a LEED Accredited Professional with a specialty in Building Design and Construction. He has a strong working knowledge of NFPA, OSHA and other national standards, a deep knowledge of the history of fire station design, and remains up-to-date on the latest national trends. Craig is passionate for fire station design and creates excellent buildings that support firefighters in their service to the public.

Contact Craig at ccarter@bkvgroup.com or 312-279-0465.

Preservation Alliance of Minnesota honors A-Mill Artist Lofts

September 6th, 2016

2016 PAM Awards_amill

BKV Group is excited to announce that A-Mill Artist Lofts is the recipient of a 2016 Minnesota Preservation Award (MPA). The MPAs recognize outstanding projects, groups and individuals that contribute to Minnesota’s preservation accomplishments.

Once the largest flour milling operation in the world, the Pillsbury “A-Mill” Complex was shut down in 2003. The building sat vacant and deteriorated over the next several years. In 2011, it was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation list of 11 Most Endangered Places. Dominium acquired the mill and revitalized it into 251 affordable artist apartments known as the A-Mill Artist Lofts, bringing new life to the St. Anthony Falls Historic District.

A-Mill will be presented with the Impact Award at the 2016 Preservation Alliance Benefit Gala on October 6th, 2016 at the beautiful Woman’s Club of Minneapolis. The project was selected among eight exceptional nominations for recognition due to its significant contribution to Minnesota’s preservation accomplishments and connection to the mission of the PAM.

A-Mill Artist Lofts receives 2016 AIA Minneapolis Merit & Michael L. Schrock, AIA, Merit Awards

June 22nd, 2016

A-Mill Merit Award-larger

Rising above the century-old cobblestones of Saint Anthony Main stands the historic Pillsbury A-Mill, a physically impressive reminder of the origins of the city of Minneapolis. Once the largest flour milling operation in the world, operations were shut down in 2003. The building sat vacant and deteriorated over the next several years. In 2011, it was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation list of 11 Most Endangered Places.

Renewed interest in Minneapolis’ urban core and a demand for affordable housing, provided an opportunity to reuse the Pillsbury A-Mill to support Minneapolis and its burgeoning artistic culture. In 2013, Dominium acquired the mill and revitalized it into 251 affordable artist apartments known as the A-Mill Artist Lofts, bringing new life to the St. Anthony Falls Historic District.

A-Mill Artist Lofts was awarded the AIA Minneapolis Merit Award for 2016. This award honors projects designed by AIA Minneapolis architects that tell a story of excellence beyond design and reflect the variety of forces that shape a building. In addition, A-Mill Artist Lofts was selected as the 2016 Michael L. Schrock, AIA, Merit Award recipient. This honor is awarded to the winning project that most embodies Michael’s 7 Rules of Architecture: know where you are from, know who you are, know why you are, respect your benefactors, honor the environment, architecture must serve those who occupy it, there is beauty in functional economical, safe, environmentally responsible, owner-driven architecture.

The Merit Awards were presented to recipients at the AIA Minneapolis Chapter Luncheon in June at International Market Square in Minneapolis.

View full AIA announcement here.

Mark Manetti Earns Accredited Learning Environment Designation

June 9th, 2016

Manetti ALEP designation

Mark Manetti with BKV Group recently received the Accredited Learning Environments Planner (ALEP) designation, a mark of excellence developed to reflect the knowledge, skills and abilities of a competent educational facility planner.  The ALEP credential was designed to elevate professional standards, enhance individual performance and identify those in the educational environment industry who demonstrate the knowledge essential to the practice of educational facility planning.

The Association for Learning Environments (A4LE, formerly known as CEFPI), creator of the ALEP credential, observed that “An individual who has been certified by A4LE has achieved the highest qualification in our profession. Clients can appoint ALEPs with confidence that they have been examined for competence by our association.”

After meeting eligibility requirements and submitting an application, ALEP candidates must pass a rigorous CEFP exam. Once a candidate has earned the credential, they must maintain it by fulfilling certification renewal requirements every three years, in addition to maintaining minimum continuing education units each year.

The Association for Learning Environments (A4LE) is the only professional organization whose principal purpose is improving the places where children learn. A4LE embraces a diverse group of professionals with one single goal – building healthy, safe, high performance and sustainable learning environments that enhance student and teacher performance and support culture and community vitality.

City green lights Weidner multifamily development in Minneapolis

April 21st, 2016


Washington-based Weidner Apartment Homes is one step closer to breaking ground on a new multifamily development in Minneapolis, which will include an 18,500-square-foot interior courtyard loaded with green space and recreational amenities. Designed by BKV Group, the upcoming “1400 Park” community will include a mix of market-rate one- and two-bedroom apartments as well as 13 studios and nine penthouse suites.

Construction is expected to begin in November and wrap up by January 2018. We’re excited to partner with Weidner on this new project. >> Check out the full MHN article

The renovation of the Arcade Building in St. Louis is featured in MFE Magazine

April 19th, 2016


The Arcade Apartments project was recently highlighted by MFE Magazine. BKV Group had the opportunity to work on helping bring this historic building back to life. In 2014, Dominium, a Minneapolis-based developer that had successfully completed other adaptive-reuse projects in St. Louis, purchased the building. Throughout the process, they overcame significant challenges to transform this 1913 structure in downtown St. Louis into a successful mixed-use high-rise with artists’ lofts and studios, market-rate units, and university satellite space.

“The beautiful Arcade Building seemed a logical step after our prior work [in St. Louis], since it was larger,” says Dominium’s Jeff Huggett, project partner and vice president of development and acquisitions.

Among the toughest challenges was carving out the building’s 282 residential units, since few floors were the same, which meant the floor plans couldn’t be repeated easily. The building now reflects a look back—and forward. See what BKV Group interiors partner, Melissa Metzler has to say about the transformation. >> Read the full MFE article

Innovation in Urban Mid-Rise Housing: 4th & L

December 9th, 2015


4th & L Street Apartments is a new 10-story, 133-unit apartment building in the Mount Vernon Triangle district of Washington, DC. The BKV team designed and engineered the building using our innovative steel stud system, which allows for buildings that are taller than wood and more economical than concrete. Paired with our integrated design services, 4th & L is a model for smarter construction on urban sites and higher ROI for developers.

Watch the video to learn about the potential of this exciting design system.


3 BKV Projects Win Multi-Family Executive Awards

November 4th, 2015

We’re proud to announce that three BKV projects were winners at the 2015 Multi-Family Executive (MFE) Awards.

Congratulations to everyone involved with these great projects!

Read MFE’s articles on the winners here.


Adaptive Reuse: From Office Buildings to Multifamily

September 16th, 2015


Empty office buildings, meet adaptive reuse.

The BKV team worked with Promark Real Estate Services to design the recently completed Octave 1320, an office-to-condo conversion project in Silver Spring, Maryland. We preserved the building’s basic structure, but completely rehabbed the interior into 102 one- and two-bedroom units.  The condos offer modern finishes, floor-to-ceiling windows, and flexible features such as movable granite islands and movable wall partitions.  Octave 1320 also has a first-floor clubroom, a bike storage room, and a roof deck with a pool and skyline views.

With open floor plans and affordable list prices, these condos are geared toward first-time buyers — and the price was right for the developer, too.  The foundation and support structures were kept intact, and the construction time (about 12 months) was much faster than new construction.

Click below to learn more about the benefits of office conversion projects:


Photos: Insider Tour of the A-Mill Artist Lofts

August 28th, 2015

The Pillsbury A-Mill, constructed in 1881 by Charles A. Pillsbury, is one of the most iconic remnants of Minneapolis’ rich milling history. Despite being designated as a National Historic Landmark, the mill fell into disrepair after production ceased in 2003. In 2011, the National Trust for Historic Preservation included the A-Mill on its list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

Dominium purchased the building in 2013. Now, BKV and the developer are transforming the historic mill into the A-Mill Artist Lofts. This affordable housing community will offer 255 live-work apartments and amenity spaces geared toward artists, including art galleries, clay studios, painting studios, a photography studio, digital media studios, vocal and instrumental sound booths, dance practice studios, and a performance hall.

New interventions on the buildings are being completed in a way that respects the historic and raw industrial character of the buildings. The lower level of the A-Mill will house a new interpretive museum that will tell the story of the complex and the role of water power in milling.  Two new primary entrances feature extruded metal volumes that recall industrial chutes found within the buildings and respect the industrial character of the site.

Joel Otto, a member of BKV’s Construction Administration team, led a group of staff on an exclusive tour of this exciting project, which is slated for completion later this year. Click through the photo gallery above!

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